Per the Hollywood Reporter, Oscar-winner Robert Redford has agreed to portray disgraced newsman Dan Rather in an adaptation of the 2005 memoir “Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power.”
The book was written by Mary Mapes, the producer Dan Rather was working with in 2004 when the two of them tried to make John Kerry president by peddling blatantly forged documents against then-President George W. Bush.
The forged documents claimed Bush had not served his time and had received special treatment as a flyer for the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. Online bloggers quickly blew the lid off the amateurish forgery. Though CBS never retracted the false story, Mapes was eventually fired. Long before his contract was up, Rather was later ousted from his privileged anchor chair and the network.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. And I’m not talking about Dan Rather. The disgraced 82 year-old fell a decade ago and has yet to get back up. The fallen mighty one here is Robert Redford.
In 1976, Redford rightly lionized Watergate reporter Bob Woodward in Alan Pakula’s brilliant “All the President’s Men.” Woodward’s righteous reporting was in search of truth. The fall of President Richard Nixon was a consequence of that reporting.
Dan Rather is the anti-Bob Woodward, a partisan, glory-hound hack attempting to perpetrate a fraud that could have easily changed the outcome of a presidential election.
Mapes book defends herself, Rather, the story, and even the documents.
Whether you agree with Redford’s politics or not, as I wrote earlier this week, his defining screen characters have been morally upright and ethical individualists who put the fight for truth and what’s right above all, including politics. Sometime his characters are flawed. In the end, though, they either see the light or receive justice.
Dan Rather has never seen the light, and Redford’s involvement in a project that is almost certain to defend Rather is a betrayal of his entire screen legacy.
If Redford took a moment to remove his partisan blinders, he’d see that in this real-life morality play, Dan Rather is Higgins, the Cliff Robertson character in “Three Days of the Condor”; a villain who abuses his power and public trust in the twisted belief that doing what he believes is best for America makes it okay to lie and deceive.
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